GU takes home historic triple crown
A historic year for men’s football at Glasgow University saw all three teams secure their respective BUCS league titles, both the 2s and the 3s winning their final matches to claim titles in dramatic fashion. Those victories sealed a memorable year for the club, having never before accomplished such a feat. With both the 2s and the 3s earning promotion to BUCS divisions 2A and 3A respectively, Glasgow will become the only university with three teams in the top three divisions next season and could even claim themselves the strongest men’s university football program in the land.
The first team led the way, securing their title with a game to spare, a 1-0 victory over Heriot-Watt 1s thanks to Leon Hay’s solitary goal, proving enough to close out the league. A week later they then finished the campaign with another 1-0 victory over RGU 1s, last year’s British University Champions. This defensive solidity was the hallmark of the 1s season, marshalled by centre back Conor Morgan, while ever-present Colin Granger controlled the game from the middle. Robbie Stirling’s incisive play up front provided the team with cutting edge, which alongside Sean Wilson’s goals, made the 1s a formidable opposition this year. Club captain, Alistair Keith, said “From coming second in the BUCS 1A last season, the 1s set out a target to win the championship this year. It has been a great achievement to be crowned best football team in the Scottish University Championships. Immense effort from all players and coaching staff involved – now we set our sights on the double”. This season’s triumph marked the pinnacle of impressive progress made by the club in recent years, having only won promotion to the top division two years previously.
If success is hard, they say sustained success is even harder, yet the 3s managed to do exactly that. Following on from last year, where the team destroyed the competition winning all ten games, the third team faced a more demanding challenge from their rivals this year. Overcoming adversity this year, losing their coach to the 1s as well as some key players to both the 1s and 2s, the 3s, now led by student Andrew Paterson, found themselves requiring a win in their final match against Edinburgh 3s in order to retain their crown – in the knowledge that the Edinburgh 2s would in all likelihood achieve victory over City of Glasgow College.
Having lost to the Edinburgh 2s in a nervy encounter with two games remaining, the prospect of squeaky bum time becoming a reality loomed large. If there was tension in the squad, the 3s showed no sign of it to their opponents, however, taking the lead within 15 minutes. A thoroughly professional performance ensued, as the East Coast outfit were stymied by an organised defence and then picked off on the break, storming to a 4-0 victory and second straight league title. Needless to say, this sparked raucous celebrations afterwards. Led by top-scorer James Williamson, who has notched a remarkable 27 goals this season, he noted that ‘’it was a demanding league, the boys really had to dig in and play for each other, which we did throughout.” The 6’3 frontman added, “Our team-spirit and attitude was our strength, and we carried on our winning mentality from last season.”
If the 3s final-day victory was dramatic, then the 2s triumph was truly Cinderella stuff. As they went into their final game on the same day against league leaders Strathclyde 2s, the gap was three points and to make matters more difficult, they trailed on goal difference too; meaning they required a victory by a four-goal margin to wrestle the championship away from their city rivals.
The game kicked off with the 2s on top, racing into a 2-0 lead after just twenty minutes, with goals from Gregor Kerr and Joe Cameron. A third was added before half-time, meaning that at the break, the team was just a goal away from an unlikely upset. Strathclyde broke the deadlock in the second half, leaving the 2s’ title hopes on life support. Jamie Rowland personified the spirited performance by completing his double almost immediately however, taking the title down to the wire.
And with fifteen minutes to go, Sean Calvey struck home with a clinical finish, giving the 2s the four-goal margin required - meaning that if they could hold on, the league was theirs. They duly did so, shutting up shop and seeing the final minutes out to seal a clean sweep for GUFC. A day, and a night, which will live long in the memory for all those involved.
If Scottish students have a reputation for underselling themselves, it is important not to understate the significance of this achievement, for which credit should go to the players and the coaching staff of the club. Keith summed up the accomplishment by saying “To have a team win a BUCS league is an amazing result, to win two BUCS leagues is unbelievable but for 3/3 of our GUFC teams to win their respective leagues on a Wednesday is beyond belief! Potentially the most successful year in terms of BUCS Wednesday achievements, in the GUFC’s long history!” The University has a strong sporting tradition with no shortage of history-makers in its ranks, the likes of Laura Muir and Mark Beaumont achieving success on a global stage these days. A community which these players can now claim to be a part of, their achievement the first in living memory, and potentially the first in the GUFC’s 142-year-long history.